The Interviews: Moses Nagamootoo

Melissa Edwards: Is there any truth in the reports that you resigned from the PPP?

Nagamootoo: I don't know what reports you are talking about, but I know that there have been speculations over what happened to me and about what I should do with my political life. Let me say this: all my life I have been a PPP man. I have had difficulties with an interest group in the leadership of this party over whether or not issues have been addressed and attended to. Because of the disagreement over how some of these issues have been handled, the more recent being the so-called Gajraj Affair, that I walked out from a leadership meeting of the party. I was surprised (and `surprise' is a mild word) that my colleagues responded to my walkout from the meeting by sending me a letter thanking me for my resignation from the Executive Committee of the party. Now this has not been told to the public, and I want them to know that I was "resigned" by my colleagues as a member of the Executive Committee. I have not sent a letter of resignation. We had had a disagreement over a contentious issue in the handling of the Gajraj Affair, at least the exit strategy, and I walked out from that meeting. So I was taken back that some of my colleagues do in fact want me out of the leadership of the party and they pressed the panic button, (and I know the reason why this happened so early before the upcoming congress of the PPP). I sent a letter to the General Secretary of the party, Mr. Donald Ramotar, saying that I have not resigned from the Executive Committee. I have had no response to that letter, no reply, not even the courtesy of an acknowledgement. Donald Ramotar told me privately that I had sent him a letter that he didn't know how to reply to. Yet, I understand that a smear campaign has been orchestrated and is in full swing to discredit me and my association with and history in the PPP. My point is that if I am disengaging or walking away because of dissatisfaction with the way the leadership has failed to lead, has failed to offer a vibrant leadership to this party I have been associated with for some 44 years, it does not mean that I am walking into any thing or any other force. I intend to walk down and go to where I have come, which is the grassroots, which is among the masses, which is among the supporters of the party, which is my people, and I intend for them to understand that the issues I questioned the leadership about are issues critical to their future in Guyana. This is where the matter is, and no smear campaign, character assassination, invectives and calumnies thrown at me would resolve this issue of difference over certain positions taken or not taken.
So I have indicated that I would not renew my membership in the party, which I did not do. My wife has not renewed her membership. She has been in the party well over 35 years. That was done in protest.
There are a number of issues including governance, the question of national unity, the question of strengthening the leadership of the party and organizationally make it more effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations of at least its supporters. And none of these issues has been addressed. So (my disagreement with the leadership) has not been a recent development. This is a post Cheddi Jagan development. So regarding this speculation as to where I go next - all I can say now as I am speaking with you is that I consider myself a PPP man taking a strong protest action because of difference with the leadership.

Edwards: But if Mr. Ramotar respond to your letter and say that he apologised or a mistake has been made, would you remain in the party or would you look elsewhere?

Nagamootoo: Well, hypothetically, if Mr. Ramotar sends me a letter tomorrow and says, "Can we sit and talk", I will sit and talk. I don't think that the issues on the table are insurmountable. They are political issues. I am a politician: I have been long in the political arena to know that there are ways in which conflicts are resolved and one of these is by discussion; one of these ways is to try to hammer out the differences. I don't think that these are issues over which I need to go to war with the leadership but I think that they are still critical, that it will help any organisation, especially the PPP, to become a more effective organisation.

For example, one of the issues, which is more recent, is: how do we react to a member of the leadership going public and calling me a liar, and heaping calumnies on me in public, because I stood up on an issue, the Ramjattan issue?
I had said that I heard Ramjattan being accused with being a spy, of carrying news to the American Embassy. I didn't say that the ones who said that they didn't hear were lying. I did not go public and call them liars. So, no one, including the President and Robert Persaud, had any right as members of my organisation, to go public and accuse me with lying and trying to pull the President down. That is an issue, a serious issue, because I consider the matter of integrity and honesty and honour in an organisation as very important.

Edwards: Let us say, looking ahead, if things do work out with the discussion, would you still not join back with the leadership?

Nagamootoo: As I said, at this moment, I have not had a definitive fracture in my relationship with the party. I don't have personal animosity towards members of the leadership I know that some of them have interests of their own, and these interests which they hold are forcing them to take certain position of hostility as if the differences over issues cannot be resolved. How do you deal with issues? Look here, when I raised allegations of corruption against Gajraj one member of my leadership stood up and said that I should know that not all allegations of corruption could be investigated! I am amazed at that, to say the least, because this party came into office strongly on the issue of accountability, strongly on the issue of good governance, and strongly on the issue of integrity. Cheddi Jagan was the one who had set a high goal for us that we must at all times behave ethically correct, we must at all times defend the public trust in us by being fully accountable and you must deal with all and every allegation of corruption. I have raised in the party leadership questions about the Lotto funds. I have raised issue over the wildlife matter, the dolphin issue. I have raised those not because I had something personal against any individual. When Clement Rohee's visa was denied or revoked by the U.S. I raised that and asked : "Would Clement Rohee say why his visa has been revoked?"
He said, "I have nothing to say". I don't think that is tenable in an organisation! When you raise issues you feel that these issues must be seriously investigated. So I say this: yes, I can talk with my colleagues if they are willing to look into the issues, and we talk about them, why not? I have not closed the door to the PPP. I have not resigned from the PPP. Not renewing my membership in the PPP is one thing if I do so in protest, if I do so to put pressure on my colleagues and say "hey, wake up, wake up! We have serious things ahead of us; we have a commitment, we have a destiny with the Guyanese people to do things better!"

Edwards: Don't you think that you should remain in the PPP to make some changes?
Nagamootoo: Well, I have tried my best, I have always tried to make reforms within the PPP. In politics you have to be very flexible; you must be open to compromise, to take into consideration even the influences outside the party.
Now we are facing not a big battle how to win power. We won power. There are many people who sacrificed to win this power. There are many people who suffered for it. I have been one who over all the years put my life and that of my family on the line so that we can have a change in this country. What we are facing now is how to perfect our democracy, how to make the society inclusive, how to bring about national unity so that we can move this society forward together - all the political parties, all the social partners. So that what I am saying is that in trying to bring about some change within the PPP I was doing that for Guyana. I was doing that so that we have a better society, a better governance, and a better democracy that must be respected in the world. But let me tell you this: if I can't do this in the party no one would stop me from trying to do that outside, but as I said my method of doing that is to go down to the people, the masses. They are the ones who created in me at least an image that I have a contribution to make and I would not deny them that contribution. For now I can tell you this: I know the party congress is coming up shortly. I don't intend to go to the congress because the issues have not been dealt with. I don't intend to seek re-election to any office or post in the party but I will still remain as vocal as I have always been -- an advocate for change, so that can have a better political climate and culture in the country, and better leadership with a greater vision for our country. And I want members and supporters of my party to understand this, because in the smear campaign people are saying that I am leaving and joining the third or whatever force. People had approached me - many persons approached me to join up with some other force. My position is that I am not walking into any other force. I have to see what the mood of the society is, but I am not a member of a third force, I am not associated with any such force. I have not even given it a serious thought. The slander campaign will not help because if I cannot find a platform in the PPP to advance those ideals with which I have been associated all my life, I certainly will find a platform elsewhere once the people are receptive to what I have to offer. I am not closing the door to anything. The options are wide open.

Edwards: As you go around you find lots of enthusiasm on the road for Trotman and Ramjattan, and many young lawyers, even lecturers, say they will join. Do you think this will manifest itself into a force?

Nagamootoo: In politics there is a body of goodwill: People always want change. They want something different and something new. That is the cardinal point of life, that you must always want something new, something better.
Let me tell you this: Ramjattan and Trotman, at least the two names you called, are very attractive for all the reasons you have mentioned. They are bright; they are young; they are articulate; they have political grooming in the two major parties. Well, during the Vietnam War, the leader of the National Liberation Front, Ho Chi Ming, said that after the war, "a thousand flowers will bloom". I will like to see in Guyana many flowers blooming. We have inherited fifty years of political legacy where we have seen some thing blooming, but many because of the political culture, have not been allowed to. They were killed or pushed out and the climate had been for many years almost barren. Except for very brief periods. One of those periods was during the Walter Rodney struggle. Another was when Cheddi Jagan became the President. There were great excitement, great expectations, among people. So, we are seeing that now there is some expectations among people that they want a change. I do not think necessarily that any other party or force or movement coming to the scene is a bad thing because we have to deal with a plural political culture where there must be room for all - room for more politicians, more revolutionaries, and more democrats because this will help the country. The best way of going forward is to place options before your people. The people who are now young, the now generation, they don't know much of what we did. I am sure that many young people don't know who Nagamootoo was in the anti-colonial struggle. They don't care to know even what he did in the 60s, or the 70s or in the 80s, when we fought against a dictatorial government and we fought for free and fair elections. They just want to know what happens tomorrow; what their life would be tomorrow: will they all be forced to leave the country, will they all be ensnared in banditry, will they all be stalked by the spectre of crime and drugs and prostitution and AIDS. They want a way forward and I believe that all the flowers must be allowed to bloom and we should allow the Guyanese people the opportunity to be presented with all the formulae, all the ideas by which we can go forward. I believe that theoretically a third force or whatever you may call it, should be welcome.

Edwards: Going back to the third force. You said that it is something you have not considered. But do you have any intention of joining them?

Nagamootoo: Some years ago, I was traveling in London and as I looked up ahead of me, coming from the airport, I saw a Cross leaning like this. As I passed, I looked back and saw some writing, saying "even the uncertain happens". So if you ask me if I would join the third force my answer would be: "Who knows. Even the uncertain can happen!" But at this time, I am not giving it a thought. I am involved in a protest. I am involved in sending a serious message to the members and supporters of my party, the PPP, that they should start raising questions and one of the questions should be: "What are they doing to comrade Moses?" and another could be, "Should we allow an interest group to do what they are doing to comrade Moses?" Should they trust these people? Could they not do this to others? They should look ahead and think, and ask why should we allow the best fighters in the land to be selectively destroyed?
I consider my ouster from the leadership of the PPP a bloodless assassination, at least for now. And those who have scripted my assassination, my political assassination, and they have been allowed so far to get away with it. If that to Comrade Moses that this is the time PPP members should wake up and ask questions. I thing this should be the time to have the greatest unity and cohesion in our ranks, it will not help us to sow disunity at this time.


Moses Nagamootoo Talks with Kaieteur News

Andrew Richards (KN): What are your views on the political situation in the country at this time with regards to the major political parties not seeing eye to eye and the general population would seem to think this will not benefit the country as they seem to be bickering all the time?

Moses Nagamootoo: The question whether the two parties "seem to be bickering" has to be seen in a wider context of the system of government obtained in Guyana. The Guyana system is that of a hybrid Westminster model - a type of parliamentary system where you have a government and an opposition. Our system evolved basically as a two-party system. And that has been so in the post independence period - the major parties being the PPP and PNC. And both of these parties are largely and perhaps exclusively race-based parties. Their support comes, respectively, from Indo- and Afro- Guyanese. The Amerindian, Chinese, mixed and other minorities in the population are not strong enough constituency to affect the pre-eminence of the two major race groups as the deciders of the electoral destiny of either of the two parties or both of these parties. So where you have a system based on the size of the ethnic support - Indo-Guyanese, 46 to 47 per cent of the electorate; Afro-Guyanese 41 to 42 - there is a contest for power based on their respective numerical strength. And so, the coming into office of one party is often seen as the exclusive of the other party, meaning one race onside and the other race outside. Therefore the tension of the society, the insecurity in the society, is spawned by a system of governance that is more exclusionary than inclusive.
Both parties are going to deny this but denial is only postponing the search for a solution. And the trauma that you have, which is a political problematic, is caused by this exclusion. And, rather, because of this exclusion. It is caused by it and because of it. That is where we are in Guyana - a kind of contentious sometimes acrimonious relationship between the two political parties because of the interplay of ethnic factors at the electoral level.

Richards: I gather that you are saying that the system of governance should be changed?

Nagamootoo: I believe that every country, being challenged by its own history and peculiarities, mainly the nature and character of its minorities, must evolve political systems that will help create an atmosphere of togetherness and stability. You don't want a situation like Rwanda where one tribe, the Hutus, feel that they have been marginalised by the Tutsis and other tribes. Rwandians saw each others not as Rwandians but as Hutus and Tutsis. And the solution they had found was the decimation of one of the two tribal ethnicities. The alternative therefore is how to have togetherness and upon what model it can be built upon. I have always felt that in keeping with Guyana's experience and history there should be a system of shared governance.

Richards: There are many definitions of "shared governance".

Nagamootoo: First of all, the shared governance I am talking about must recognize that what we have in Guyana is a multi-party, multi-ethnic, plural system. So immediately I am not talking about shared governance that presupposes the destruction of the plural nature of the state, because there are some people who are saying "why can't the two parties come together as one party and finish this contest". I don't believe so. I believe that there are interests that can be defined and interests that are legitimate that can best be advanced if they are advocated. The withering away of political parties, I believe, would not help the cause of advancing these interests. But the interest of a particular section or sections of the society must not replace the national interest. Therefore, while you have a multi-party system, we must also have a national approach by the political parties that places the national interest first. Hence, my concept of shared governance is based on a programmatic approach where political parties can conference and dialogue to bring about a minimum programme where no interest is excluded. So you start by building a comfort zone between and among political parties, particularly the major parties that firstly, while their supporters interests are catered for, this is seen as an imperative to push the national interest, which is national development. Secondly, there must be recognition by the parties that they must be constrained by the boundaries of democracy. You must accept what you are attempting to do here must be done within the framework of a democracy. In other words, you cannot have a political party committing itself to national development but at every opportunity it subverts it - it boycotts parliament at every opportunity, it stages demonstrations, incites and foments violence and racial attacks and, tacitly or implicitly, supports insurgency, like what I thought Buxton was - an insurgency with a different form of threat to the national interest though it is called crime. So you have to be able to see this shared governance within the framework of a shared programme, with the parties committing themselves to a system of democracy, where the rule of law is not undermined and there is good governance.

You must know that when I say shared governance I have not said anything about sharing the Cabinet. I am talking how you go about uniting, putting up a strong fence, because you are dealing here with the high wind of division and suspicion and insecurity. You want a good fence that can stand up so it must be rooted in the people, in a democracy. Parties must conform to the norms of democracy. You cannot go around with guns, licking up and breaking down because you have differences and you have problems. You have to realize that problems can be resolved within the context of talks, discussions and negotiations and so on.

And then when you do that you go to the next level of coalition building, once we can hammer out what things need to be done. It's important to get something done. I am diverting to deal with the Buxton syndrome. Buxton was the model of a revolutionary society in the post slavery period - a model of emancipation, self- emancipation and cooperation, and so on. Buxton was once provided with sterling leadership - Eusi Kwayana, Walter Rodney and younger types like David Hinds - leadership native to Buxton by others peripheral to Buxton. Many gave Buxton the example by which young people should be guided. I recall the fight in the 70s for land on the East Coast. Buxton and other African villagers wanted things that could benefit their own communities, which they were denied. They felt in the post independence period, they felt betrayed by their own. They wanted other messiahs. They were looking to their own for leadership. They weren't looking to Cheddi Jagan to provide that leadership. They had identifies with Kwayana and later Rodney. Rodney was killed. Then you saw over a period of time the withdrawal of leadership - Kwayana withdrew. So, you had a situation where a once vibrant, dynamic, revolutionary culture had descended to the culture of the mob that could be manipulated as it was because of `leaderlessness'.

So if you come back to what I was saying about coalition building. If I could bring my interest to the table, I am leading my people in a way. I don't mind if you call me an `opposition' once I am able to have an avenue where I can present my interest. I don't mind if you form the government, but I want you to do x, y and x for my people, my constituent, because I don't want them to be leader-less. I want to be able to direct their energies and talent to fruitful channels instead of them feeling leaderless and developing mob instinct, which results in violence and crime, that is, an interest that is neither the interest of their community nor the national interest. It becomes an interest that is a gang interest -narrow and parochial, that is subversive, to say the least, of all other interests. So if you have coalition building you would trust each other. You would advance mini-agendas that tie in with the bigger agenda, which is the national agenda. And if you learn to build on that coalition, then it may not exclude power-sharing in a cabinet. But how do you get that is not an immediate objective, if it is possible at all. I don't think you can constitutionalise for it; you can't engineer the Constitution to provide for it. This has to come as a social movement, as a political development, where you feel that your country is ripe for it. I feel this has not been given enough attention, and because this is so because there is no platform for the cooperation of the two major parties and thence the two major races. My sincere view is that we have to build a platform for this and we have to explore constantly ways and means of bringing about this vital cooperation.

Richards: Don't you feel that Parliament is the place where this could come about, and where you can make representation for your constituency before sharing cabinet? And what do you think of the operation of parliament right now?

Nagamootoo: I have said before, and I think I was quoting Julius Nyerere, the former MPresident of Tanzania, when he said that the concept of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is not one that has been tailored for the peculiarities of third world and other countries that have their history in division between races, tribes, religious groupings and, perhaps, in geographical differences. In India you had Hindus and Muslims, the two large religious groups. The resolution of problems was not to have Indian Hindu governance with Moslem feeling dominated. However we may feel that the British manoeuvred and conspired to engineer the fragmentation of India by the creation of Pakistan, you have to recognize an objective reality that was working in people's minds and that was exploited, that a majority of Moslems felt, perhaps wrongly so, that India was a Hindu state and therefore they should have a state of their own. They didn't think about going into an opposition. You see what has happened in Yugoslavia - now you have Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia. And all of that in one area, where you thought people were monolith, at least they were all White. They were all Caucasians, until you heard all those bizarre stories of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Or places like Biafra and Eritrea, where you have different geographic groupings who want to go their separate way.
So, this concept of Her Majesty's loyal opposition where you could go to parliament and articulate an interest is not suited for fractured societies. You have to have an autochthonous model - a concept advanced by (Harold) Luchman and (Rudy) James -which is an indigenous model of evolving systems that best suit your own experience and environment.

Yes, here we have a parliament, and we have advocacy in parliament. But the kinds of problems we are locating at this point in time is whether the opposition feels that way parliament functions, allows its issues to be on the table or whether there is a parliament that is a mere rubber stamp or has an iron-clad majority which gets its own way. Recently, the operation of parliament has been modified and there are six committees, but I don't know if they are all fully composed and up and running, or operationalised. But surely, parliament is a place for debate, for discussion, for the distilling of views to arrive at national consensus. I agree that it is there that you should have the kernel of your debate, where within those halls, there should be the fullest possible scope for discussing policies. No policy ought to be put into practice without parliament approval, or if it not going to be implemented, without its sanction. But how does parliament address the issue of the ethnic divide where one group feels that the other ethnic group is "pon top" and they are outside. How does it address the issues that had been canvassed recently of economic and political marginalization? You have an Ethnic Relations Commission that deals with the issue of discrimination, and it might very well say there is no racial discrimination in the country. But you still have a perception that you need to address. That is why I say that the idea of shared governance, without being an immediate coalition government set-up, can develop relationship of cooperation between the two parties that could address the issue of suspicion about domination and the pre-eminence of one group over the other. Power in Guyana is like a disease of the mind, an obsession, that power is about manipulation about spinning issues, spinning propaganda, winning over, buying access with tax payers' money, giving social bribes. Power is like a pork barrel or a gravy train. It's about getting or bringing people on board because you can give them some thing. But power must be more purposeful. It has to be legitimized, and legitimate power is power than can be exercised when all people see that that power represents them, that power is them!

In other words, your parliament is okay but you need people's power and people's power has to be seen only in the active cooperation of the people and their parties, in this case, the PPP and the PNC. And I am not backing down from this concept. I think that the PNC has been very disappointing in most cases. It has not shown the type of leadership that is broad-minded or has a broad vision, and is sensitive enough to the feelings of the Guyanese people. I think that a lot of what has passed off as opposition from the PNC is lot of arrogance that doesn't have anything to do with the way people feel about it. For example, that it should not apologise for its mistakes and crimes against the Guyanese people. But be that as it may, I still feel that there is a responsibility on the part of the governing party to recognize that we are heading towards a difficult wall. You need to open up the way, and this has to be done through cooperation. If we don't do that then you are not exercising the mandate given to you to pave the way for the future.

Richards: Looking at the shared governance you are talking about, at what level should this cooperation come about - through dialogue, sharing the Cabinet?

Nagamootoo: You need dialogue but basic dialogue itself won't bring about cooperation. We have already a functional or the political infrastructure by which cooperation could take place. Here it is you have the PPP in Government, the PNC in control of Region Four, a strategic region, and GGG in control of the Capital city. If the national objective as represented by the government is to succeed, this depends on the cooperation of the region and the city. You have a political tripod in Region Four alone that should tell you that if you don't work out forms of cooperation that would include all these players, you would end up with what we had in January - the Great Flood - when we started a game of blame: The government blamed the city, the city blamed the region, the region blamed the government. You know that we were in a vicious circle. It was like a dog chasing its own tail, which I call the blame-game. But if you had sat down and brought up all the parties together - not only these parties but other players in civil society like the chamber of commerce, the trade unions, and everybody else - and if you had thought that coalition building is about cooperation, you would have included everybody, giving them a role, see where the finance is suppose to be, and work things out. Why should the President want to go to open a koker? You have a Mayor! By forward-planning with the others, the President would have had foresight to foretell what was coming.
The Regional Chairman, wrongly or rightly, claimed that he had written a letter to the Minister requesting funds to clear the drains and the kokers, and he was not given the funds. The Chairman blamed the Minister, but who becomes the victim of the blame game? The people. Whereas you should have a policy of people's power, where the people's interest is paramount, you now have the people becoming the scapegoats of a political blame-game.
On the wider scale, of the 10 regions, the PPP controls 5 and the PNC 5. So, you already have a shared system, but you need to address the issue of cooperation. Unfortunately, our post-independence politics has been that the group that's outside wants to get in and the group that's inside wants to stay in, so you keep those who are out, out. By that, we start out relationship on the basis of confrontation. Already you have the infrastructure of cooperation starting from the NDCs - the neighbourhoods coming to the top: the cities and regions. You need a model of cooperation not just a forum where you talk. You need to seriously start to work from the bottom, where there is already functional cooperation in the villages, where people see each others as brothers and as their brother's keepers. You need to address the suspicions at the village level, where people feel that those who run things are helping their friends and families- giving them contracts to clean the drains, dig the trenches and clear the garbage, etc. People think this is feather-bedding. And where you have suspicions between ethnic groupings, it assumes a dimension that it is racial suspicions. This is what we have to avoid, and so we must, for example, address the perception of exclusion of Africans. How do you address this? Begin an active search for inclusionary mechanisms and my point is you can't have that simply by saying we must have a government and an opposition, and call this democracy. Cooperation and shared governance would not come that way - by way of elections every five years where those who are out, must stay out. There must be a mechanism in Guyana where you don't end up having losers after every election. We need to development a concept of everybody winning rather than a feeling that one section of the country has been rejected, marginalized or lost. But I don't think there is any easy way of solving that (feeling of marginalization). We have already had fifty years of experience that has not brought about a change, therefore you have to intensify the search.

Richards: Fifty years and not much changed. There is a new movement - Ramjattan and Trotman came out with statements that something is wrong about the political culture or politics of the two major parties, and they are forming a movement to bring about a wind of change in the political arena. Do you think this movement could make a difference?

Nagamootoo: In the height of the Vietnam War, I remember a very beautiful statement by Ho Chi Ming (leader of the National Liberation Front) that after the war, a thousand flowers must bloom. I believe that in Guyana a thousand flowers must be allowed to bloom - there must be room for all shades of ideas and views and political opinions. There must be a place for all classes and strata, who are patriotic and democratic and want to make an honest contribution.
I have seen that the two-party system in Guyana, rather than fostering a culture of a thousand flowers blooming, it has been impaling the brightest carnations on their fence of thorns. We have seen one such carnation, perhaps the most brilliant, in the person of Walter Rodney, who was a victim. He wanted to make a contribution as a patriot, as a revolutionary. He wanted to make Guyana be. But he was killed for it. And he would not be the first or the last victim. The alienation or the expulsion of Khemraj Ramjattan from the PPP was a mistake. However calculated it was, it would carry a price. Ramjattan is young and articulate, and he has a contribution to make. If it is not needed in the PPP or even tolerated, the people must be allowed to decide if his contribution can bloom outside. Trotman is idealistic, highly motivated and has a good heart for his country. I have been acquainted with him for many years. We read law together. And I might accept some guilt that the dissident in him might be due to some initial promptings on my part that he should get involved in the life and politics of his country. However, to be able to make a qualified opinion on what is bandied about as the "third force" I need to ask my self many questions: whether (a) there is a climate of oppression in Guyana, (b) whether there is a mood in the society that favours a political change or the displacement of one or the other of the major political parties and (c) whether a new force, party or movement can succeed if it is merely a conventional body out to catch votes and not be revolutionary in bringing people purposefully into effecting a new order.

I spent 44 years now in association with the PPP starting my outing at 14 in 1961 - and I don't feel that I have the energy or the passion to re-enter the past and to build anew a conventional political organisation. I don't have the years to revive that passion. So I will be looking at any new organisation to see if it has the capacity to become a broad front of all interests and forces and if the people want such a front for national salvation, whose purpose must be national unity, with a programme that reflects the interest of all the nation's people, and the peace and stability of the country. This so-called third, centre or new force cannot be a small thing just giving politics a try. It ought to be or have the potential as an organisation to mirror and reflect broader feelings and sentiments of the society. A euphoria could develop that would bring changes that you might thing at the moment as not being possible! But we have to see whether there is an objective mood for change, for a new culture, for a system that guarantees the Rule of Law, good governance accountability by determination to weed out excess and corruption. This "thing" must contain within it the possibilities of growing into `something'. It can't start simply from a notion that "we gon form a lil organisation here and our objective is to have two or three seats or we're going to be a go-between". If its starts like that, I don't think that the vision is well focused. There was a man from America who came here for elections (Gaborde). He used to raise his index finger and say that he wanted only one seat. I always felt that he wanted to put in his bio data that he was a presidential candidate in Guyana, and that he had won one seat (in Parliament). Well I don't agree with people who want to promote their individual ambition at the expense of the aspiration and hopes of the people. So, as I see it, any new party must be a movement that coincides with the national aspirations. A new force must invite the people to burst out of their cocoon of ethnic insecurity. So it has to be ambitious if it were to succeed.

Richards: You mentioned being in politics for about 44 years. You sound a bit tired. What are your immediate plans?

Nagamootoo: I have had some difficulties in the leadership of my party. Since the death of Cheddi Jagan, my contributions have been met with growing intolerance and hostility.
I couldn't say that all the experience I have brought into the movement and to the leadership of the party through the most difficult years, would in fact come to naught. But I have seen that.
So, I have always felt that when I could no longer carry forward the dreams of our people in a particular way, I should try to disengage. And I am, if you ask me, engaged in an exciting process of disengagement. I need to walk into an interest that will revive my passion to ensure that our people live the good life in a safe and secure environment.

Richards: Could I interpret this to mean that you are leaving the PPP?
Nagamootoo: All I wish to say is that I am phasing myself out.

Richards: How do you intend to revive this interest?

Nagamootoo: It does not mean that I have given up on my love of my country and my own interest to make a contribution in whatever way I can. You know, I have said that for people like me who have been walking for so long in my life, it is hard to walk away. So if I leave the PPP it does not mean that I am leaving the people.

Richards: This interest you mention, are you looking to see whether it lies outside the PPP, in the third force?

Nagamootoo: For now, I will rather allow the process to take its form and its shape. I have come from a political tradition where I know that form is very difficult to evolve and I don't want to jump into something that has no definition of itself. I don't mean to literally jump into or to join, but to comment on it.
All it says that it is a third force, it is something. We saw two men come forward and say they intend to do something, but it is something that still doesn't have a definition. It is all in the realm of probability. But we will see, we will see, if there is a passion for it among the people.

Nagamootoo Denies Resigning from PPP Executive Committee

Does "ah done with all yo" constitute a resignation? After uttering those words Moses Nagamootoo says the PPP sent him a letter thanking him for his resignation from the executive committee of the party.

Contacted yesterday afternoon about his alleged resignation, Nagamootoo told Stabroek News that he did not resign but objected to the manner in which concerns of his were being addressed and then walked out of an executive committee meeting with the remark "ah done with all yo." He was subsequently sent the letter.

That meeting, he said, occurred on April 15, and on May 13 he received the letter signed by the party's General Secretary. "I've had a Stalinist purge," he said, adding "I was resigned by my colleagues."

He said he walked out of the meeting in disgust because of former Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj's reinstatement and the manner, "at least the exit strategy" in which the contentious affair was being handled.

Some two years earlier, he said, he had asked that investigations into certain allegations against Gajraj be conducted. He recalled that self- confessed death squad informant George Bacchus had visited his office on December 2, 2003 and "told me to watch my back. He said the boys were aware that I had called for investigations into allegations against Gajraj." Nagamootoo said he told Ramotar that Bacchus had visited his chamber and it was necessary to investigate the leaks.

He felt that the reason for the leadership "resigning" him was because several party groups have nominated him as a candidate for the party's executive committee for which elections would be held at the upcoming PPP Congress. He has written a letter to General Secretary Donald Ramotar, saying that he has not resigned, but has received no response.

Nagamootoo said he understood that a smear campaign has been orchestrated and is in full swing to discredit him and his association with the PPP.

While he has not resigned from the party, Nagamootoo said that he has indicated to the party that he would not renew his membership. Everyone, he said, had been asked to renew their membership before the upcoming PPP Congress, but that he would not be doing so, which would make him ineligible to stand for office.

His wife, too, who has been with the party for 35 years had not renewed her membership. Non-renewal of membership, he said, does not necessarily mean that you are not a member of the party, but it does mean that one is no longer a member of good financial standing. As such he said that he has disqualified himself to be nominated for office at the elections during the congress.

Apart from the Gajraj affair, he said there are a number of issues of concern, including governance, the question of national unity, and strengthening the leadership of the party and its organisation to make it more effective and responsive to the needs and aspirations of at least its supporters. These issues, though not new, were nevertheless developments that surfaced after the death of Dr Cheddi Jagan.

On his actions he said he considered himself "a PPP man taking a strong protest action because of difference with the leadership."

Stating that he was prepared to have dialogue with the party's leadership, he said he does not think that the issues are insurmountable as he considers the matter of integrity, honesty and honour in an organisation as very important.

As to whether he would rejoin the party, Nagamootoo said that he has not severed his relationship with the party. He has no personal animosity towards the leadership but he feels their interests are forcing them to take certain positions of hostility as if the differences over issues cannot be resolved. For example, he said that when he raised allegations against Gajraj one member said that he, Nagamootoo, "should know that not all allegations... could be investigated!" He said he was amazed at the response because this party (the PPP) took office strongly on the issues of accountability, good governance and integrity.

Among the matters he has raised with the party's leadership are the use of Lotto funds and the wildlife and dolphin scam, and he has also questioned why senior government officials have been denied visas or had their visas revoked. He said he has nothing personal against these individuals but he feels when serious issues are raised they must be investigated.

Asked whether he was joining the Third Force being promoted by ousted PPP Executive Member Khemraj Ramjattan and former PNCR member Raphael Trotman, Nagamootoo said he has not closed the door to the PPP and he has not resigned from the PPP. However, he said, "Who knows. Even the uncertain can happen! But at this time, I am not giving it a thought."

Nevertheless, he does not think that any other party or force or movement coming to the scene was a bad thing because plural political culture must have room for all, "more politicians, more revolutionaries, and more democrats because this will help the country. The best way of going forward is to place options before your people."mjattan and Trotman, he said, were bright, young and articulate and have political grooming in the two major parties. "We have inherited fifty years of political legacy where we have seen something blooming, but many because of the political culture, have not been allowed to. They were killed or pushed out and the climate had been for many years almost barren. Except for very brief periods. One of those periods was during the Walter Rodney struggle. Another was when Cheddi Jagan became the President. There was great excitement, great expectations among people. So, we are seeing that now there is some expectations among people that they want a change... I believe that theoretically a third force or whatever you may call it, should be welcome."

At present, he said he was involved in a protest and in sending "a serious message to the members and supporters of my party, the PPP, that they should start raising questions, and one of the questions should be, 'What are they doing to comrade Moses?' and another could be, 'Should we allow an interest group to do what they are doing to comrade oses?'"

His main reason for going public at this point in time he said was because he was aware that the party's congress was coming up and he wanted party members and supporters to understand the current smear campaign was to get people to believe that he was "leaving and joining the third or whatever force... Many persons approached me to join up with some other force. My position is that I am not walking into any other force. I have to see what the mood of the society is, but I am not a member of a third force, I am not associated with any such force. I have not even given it a serious thought."

Yet, he said, "The slander campaign will not help because if I cannot find a platform in the PPP to advance those ideals with which I have been associated all my life, I certainly will find a platform elsewhere once the people are receptive to what I have to offer. I am not closing the door to anything. The options [are] wide open."He said he considered his "ouster from the leadership of the PPP a bloodless assassination, at least for now. And those who have scripted my assassination, my political assassination... have been allowed so far to get away with it."

Stabroek News was unable to contact a senior PPP official yesterday for a response.

Editor's Note: Article from Stabroek News, July 3rd, 2005. Interviews from Channel 2 (done July 1st) and Kaieteur News respectively (June 6th).

© 2001